The Menu  (15) |Close-Up Film Review

Dir. Mark Mylod, US, 2022, 107 mins

Cast:  Ralph Fiennes, Nicholas Hoult, Anya Taylor-Joy

Review by Carol Allen

The Menu is an ensemble piece dominated by Ralph Fiennes as celebrity chef Julian Slowak. 

In a rather Agatha Christie manner, a group of well heeled semi celebs have been invited to a special dinner on an offshore and therefore isolated island by Chef, as he is reverently known. Will they be forced to eat a disgustingly bizarre diet like certain celebrated nonentities in Australia?   Or will they turn out to be on the menu themselves?  I wouldn’t want to spoil your appetite by telling you.

The diners include a group of drunken techno freaks, a middle aged couple who are regular devotees of Chef’s artistry, a fading movie star and a restaurant critic. Our attention is first drawn though to Tyler (Nicholas Hoult), an obsequious fan of Chef and Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy), the young woman we assume to be his girlfriend.  But while Tyler is shamelessly sucking up to Chef, Margot appears to be taking the whole business with a very big pinch of salt – not on the menu.

The event, which has all the elements of showmanship, with Chef’s team of sous chefs making like a cross between the chorus in a musical and a well drilled military unit, is stage managed very effectively by the “maitre” or rather “maitresse de”, Elsa (Hong Chau).

The many and various courses look suspiciously like the dishes featuring in the plethora of cookery programmes currently on the telly.   Highly decorative, over fussy creations with nothing of substance to actually eat.  That though is the least of the diners’ worries, as the evening progresses and things take a decided turn for the scary. 

Fiennes dominates the proceedings with his strong voice and aquiline features, torturing his guests in increasingly nasty ways with each course.  And remember they can’t get off the island.  Taylor Joy though – her of the enigmatic eyes and sassy presence – is more than a match for him.   Though what fate awaits her, one wonders? 

Bon appetit.